How to Elope in Colorado: The Ultimate Colorado Adventure Elopement Guide

Ready to elope in Colorado? Well, you’ve come to the right place! My Ultimate Colorado Guide is packed full of everything you need to know about getting married here in the Rockies! Picture this: a breathtaking mountain backdrop, the smell of pine trees, and an intimate ceremony with just you and your partner. Sounds like a dream right? You can have this all and more when eloping in Colorado.

Elopements have gained popularity in recent years as couples seek a more personal and adventurous way to say “I do.” In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of elopements in Colorado.

What is an Elopement?

In the past, elopements referred to couples who ran away secretly to get married without their families’ consent. However, modern elopements have evolved into intimate weddings that prioritize the couple’s relationship. The focus is completely on the experience rather than the size of the guest list. An elopement allows you to escape the pressures and expectations of a traditional wedding. Allowing you to be able to create a day that truly reflects you and your partner’s relationship.

Who is an Elopement for?

Elopements are for couples seeking an intimate, meaningful, and adventurous experience. It’s an excellent choice for those who value privacy, nature, and a more relaxed celebration. Whether you’re adventurers at heart, introverts who prefer an intimate setting, or couples looking to prioritize experience over things, an elopement can be the perfect option to celebrate your love.

Why Should You Elope in Colorado?

a) Scenic Beauty: From majestic mountains to stunning alpine lakes, Colorado provides a backdrop that will take your breath away and leave you with beautiful photos.

b) Outdoor Adventure: Colorado is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. You can exchange vows atop a mountain peak, hike to a waterfall, or have an intimate ceremony by one of the many alpine lakes. The possibilities for adventure are endless.

c) Privacy and Intimacy: Colorado’s vast wilderness provides ample opportunities for seclusion and privacy. You can escape the crowds and focus solely on each other and your commitment.

d) Marriage Laws: Colorado has marriage-friendly laws. Which makes it easy for couples to obtain a marriage license and legally tie the knot. You don’t need an officiant or witnesses making the process super stress-free and straightforward.

Best Time to Elope in Colorado

Summer Colorado Elopements (June-August)

Summer in Colorado is probably my favorite time of year. The snow is finally starting to melt off in June and things are starting to come alive. June gives you the benefit of some extra warmth while still having the ability to get photos with snowcapped mountains. July and August are a bit warmer in the mountains. The snow usually has melted off by now but the waterfalls are flowing and the wildflowers are popping! Think bright, colorful, and warm when it comes to July + August in Colorado.

There are so many beautiful locations in Colorado that are accessible in the summer whereas, in the winter months some locations are closed. In the summer you have a lot more flexibility when selecting a location. Colorado has a wide variety of landscapes to choose from – mountains, lakes, waterfalls, prairie, wildflowers, etc. July – August here it is the perfect time to pick a mountain top elopement since the higher you go the cooler it becomes. Although you want to bear in mind the altitude and that we do get many afternoon storms. Hiking, backpacking, and kayaking are all examples activities to consider during this time. 

Summer Colorado Elopement Checklist:

• Umbrellas (clear if possible) & rain gear

• Hiking Boots

• Lightweight Jacket (it can get chilly in the mountains fast)

Fall Colorado Elopements (September – November)

Fall is my other favorite time of year in Colorado. The colors during this time of year are absolutely astounding. The aspens are finally turning that bright yellow that the Colorado mountains are so famous for! The timing of the color change can vary year to year. Usually you can start to see fall colors from September to the beginning of October.

Some great activities this time of year can include hiking, rock-climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. September is probably the best month since it gets a bit cooler and the colors are really popping off. It’s a much safer bet to elope in September than October. October can be unpredictable, we usually get our first snow during this month! If you absolutely want to get married in October I’d suggest sticking within the first or second week.

Fall Elopement Checklist:

• Extra clothes/socks, Layers & jackets

• Hiking shoes or boots that can handle a variety of environments such as snow, mud, & water

• Raincoat

Winter Colorado Elopements (December – April)

December is generally when things start to get a bit colder in Colorado. Colorado is a gorgeous location for a winter elopement. There are some really amazing activities you can participate in such as, snowboarding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling and sled-dogging. There is less accessibility to trails and many roads are closed over the winter. Although, eloping at one of the ski-resorts can be really fun during this time of year! The weather can be unpredictable in the winter so if you aren’t used to driving in snowy conditions and aren’t a fan of the cold, I would recommend choosing a date in the summer or fall. Activities can include skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, dog sledding, etc.

Winter Elopement Checklist:

• Layers, Layers, Layers!!

• Jetboil – so you can heat up coffee, tea, hot chocolate and have something warm to drink!

• Hand, body, & foot warmers.

• Microspikes

• Appropriate traction or chains for your car (if needed)

Spring Colorado Elopements (Mid-May -Early June)

Spring weddings have always been popular but here in Colorado you may still be experiencing the remnants of winter. Most of the time our spring doesn’t come until the last week of May or early June.

Spring Elopement Checklist:

• Warm clothes & layers

• Water & mud proof hiking shoes or boots

How to Pick Your Elopement Date

a) Meaningful Dates: Consider choosing a date that holds significance to you as a couple, such as an anniversary, your first date or a shared milestone.

b) Availability: Check the availability of your preferred vendors, such as photographers, officiants, and florists, to ensure they can accommodate your chosen date.

c) Weather Considerations: Research the average weather conditions for your desired season and choose a date that aligns with your preferences and comfort level.

d) Pick a weekday: Many people choose to get married on the weekends so traffic can be high on the trails or popular locations. If you select a weekday date you will have more locations and vendors to choose from. 

**Pro-Tip: If you are planning on eloping during the winter months I would suggest coming into town for a few days if you are from out of state. This allows you the flexibility to move your elopement date up or down if there is bad weather. Additionally, if you are flexible with your date, you may be able to work with more vendors. 

Best Places to Elope in Colorado

Recommended Regions & Locations:

  • Estes Park / Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks
  • Granby
  • Breckenridge / Sapphire Point
  • Loveland Pass
  • Guanella Pass
  • Vail
  • Garden of the Gods / Colorado Springs
  • Buena Vista
  • Leadville / Twin Lakes
  • Crested Butte
  • Aspen / Maroon Bells
  • San Juan Mountains / Telluride / Ouray / Silverton
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park / Estes Park, Colorado

When you think of Colorado, probably one of the first places that comes to mind is Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is filled with amazing 360 degree views of the Rockies, miles of hiking trails, and a variety of wildlife. One of the many benefits of having your ceremony within the park is that it is easily accessible. If you are planning on having your wedding or elopement in the park you have to apply for a permit with the park. Additionally, the ceremony has to take place in one of the 12 designated areas. If you are just wanting portraits inside the park you can apply for a day use photography permit. Otherwise, if you don’t feel like jumping through the hoops of getting a permit and having your ceremony at one of the designated locations, I’d suggest looking at a nearby location in Estes Park!

Boulder Open Spaces & Mountain Parks

Boulder is the best place to get married on the front range in my opinion. It gives you easy access to Rocky Mountain Park and so much more. This town is incredibly famous and is super fun and artsy. It draws large crowds from all over the world! The town of boulder is at the base of the Flatirons. When you visit you get to experience the large slanted sandstone rock formations that make the mountains of Boulder famous. Boulder has so many great photoshoot locations within a short distance and has a bunch of outdoor activities to offer.

Grand Lake & Granby

These areas are totally underrated in my opinion and include some of the most scenic spots in Colorado. Located on the other side of Rocky Mountain National Park you will find the town of Grand Lake. This town has amazing views, and is definitely more laidback and casual than some of the other mountain towns. You probably guessed it already but Grand Lake has a lake right in the middle of town. It has a ton of shops and festivals year round, hiking and biking trails, and plenty of lodging options. Grand Lake is known as the “Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado,” so if you love winter sports this might just be the spot for you!

Breckenridge / Sapphire Point

Sapphire Point is located in Dillon, Colorado which is only 8.5 miles away from Breckenridge and 5 miles from Frisco. Breckenridge is a hot spot here in Colorado. I recommend couples to find accommodations nearby so that they can enjoy the small mountain town as apart of their elopement experience. Sapphire Point is a great location because it open year-round is easily accessible. If a winter elopement is your plan then this may be one of your top choices. The ceremony site must be reserved and is $150 to rent. This site can hold up to 35 people and is only a 3-minute walk from the parking lot. I highly recommend booking this location as soon as possible as it is a very popular choice amongst eloping couples.

Loveland Pass

At nearly 12,000 feet this is one of the most epic elopement locations! Loveland pass is also located close to Dillon, Frisco and Breckenridge, Colorado. There are epic alpine lakes and amazing hiking trails within the pass. It is open year round but definitely keep an eye on the weather as the road leading up is on the edge of the mountain with no guard rails. There are many scenic views along the way. However, if you are looking for something a little more private, then I recommend choosing a hiking trail.

Guanella Pass

This mountain pass is one of the most iconic roads in all of Colorado! It is within a reasonable drive time from Denver and has some of the best views. The byway follows a river up above tree-line and includes stopping points to get out and enjoy the scenery. There are moose that like to hang out in this area and if you’re lucky you will spot one! One of the most famous 14ers, Mount Bierstadt sits along this road. There are several hiking trails and tundra to explore, it definitely makes for an epic place to elope.

Vail

Vail is another well known ski-resort mountain town. It is super cute and is modeled to look like a European village. Sprinkled throughout the town are hidden walkways. You can stroll through beautiful gardens and enjoy the flora and fauna that Vail has to offer. Vail is located in the White River National Forest allowing couples to go out and hike, backpack, ski and snowboard! Vail is definitely a really cool place to host your snowboarding elopement. The Gore Range is really perfect for couples looking to head out on an overnight camping trip.

Garden of the Gods / Colorado Springs, Colorado

Located in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is a very unique breathtaking area of Colorado. It has towering red rocks jutting from the earth for beautiful backdrops and views of surrounding mountain peaks (the most famous being Pike’s Peak). Garden of the Gods is a great location to elope to because it is open year-round, is incredibly accessible, has designated ceremony spots, and does not require any permitting.

Buena Vista, Colorado

If you’re wondering how to elope in Colorado, Buena Vista offers everything you could ever desire. Imagine saying your vows amidst the towering Rocky Mountains, with the serene Arkansas River as your witness. This picturesque town is a haven for adventure seekers, boasting numerous outdoor activities that make for the perfect pre or post-elopement celebration. Whether you’re into hiking, white-water rafting, or simply savoring a romantic sunset together, Buena Vista has it all. Plus, with its friendly community and charming accommodations, you’ll find the support and comfort you need to make your elopement truly special. Buena Vista is truly a hidden gem here in Colorado.

Twin Lakes / Leadville

Twin Lakes is nestled between majestic mountains and surrounded by shimmering alpine lakes. Twin Lakes provides the perfect setting for an intimate and meaningful wedding. This location boasts numerous outdoor activities, making it a haven for adventurous couples. From hiking through scenic trails to stargazing under clear night skies, every moment spent in Twin Lakes is filled with magic and romance. By eloping in Twin Lakes you’ll likely have the whole place to yourselves as it is a destination that even some locals don’t know about. There are so many great hidden spots in this area and is probably in my personal top 3 favorite locations! Leadville is the neighboring town and you can find more options for lodging there.

Crested Butte

Crested Butte is rugged, wild and is know as the wildflower capital of Colorado. They even host an annual wildflower festival every year. I absolutely love this little mountain town for its relaxed atmosphere and plethora of outdoor activities to participate in. There are epic off-roading locations, forests and alpine lakes!

Maroon Bells / Aspen, Colorado

Located near Aspen, Colorado, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colorado – Maroon Bells. The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains located in the Snowmass Wilderness. This park is located 12 miles southwest of Aspen, Colorado. The park is easily accessible but does require a timed entry permit. There is also an amphitheater that can fit up to 50 people and you can rent it for your elopement – this is a great option if you are looking to get away from the crowds and have your own little slice of the park.

San Juan Mountains / Telluride, Ouray and Silverton

The San Juan Mountains absolutely have my heart. These mountains are INSANE, they are some of the most stunning mountains I have ever been privy too. The towns of Telluride, Ouray and Silverton surround these mountains and are super cute! I love walking the downtown areas to shop and eat some great food! These areas are known for jeeping and off-roading, as well as, via ferrata, hiking, and so much more. This area of Colorado has several waterfalls to explore, alpine lakes to swim in and wildflower fields to meander through. I HIGHLY recommend booking your elopement in the San Juan Mountains.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park is an incredibly interesting location because it looks like you are in the sand dunes of the Middle East. There are giant mounds of sand over vast distances with snow peaked mountains looming all around. It is truly one of the most unique views you can have not just in Colorado but anywhere. This is a great place for a more relaxing and secluded Colorado Elopement. 

Colorado Location Permits for Eloping in the Great Outdoors

With the rise of Covid and the lack of ability to gather in indoor spaces, the outdoors became the new place to commune. This was amazing news for the parks systems, but that also meant an increase in foot traffic. This can risk the disruption of the fragile ecosystems that can be found in certain areas of Colorado. Due to the increase of tourism many locations have put permitting in to place to ensure that the habitat is not destroyed. We want to make sure that we are taking care of the environment properly so it can stay beautiful. This can seem like an inconvenience when trying to elope, but it’s all in the name of helping to save these pretty places.

Typically there are two types of permits that are required when eloping in Colorado. A Special Use Permit usually covers having a legal wedding ceremony in the location you’re in. The second is a Commercial Photography Permit, which basically grants permission to the photographer. There are some parks, like Rocky Mountain National Park that require timed entry passes on-top of having a regular permit. Additionally, some parks require that you make a reservation for your wedding at a designated ceremony spot.

What to Wear & Pack for your Colorado Elopement

What shoes to wear for your Colorado Elopement

Investing in a good pair of hiking boots or sneakers for your elopement is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. Colorado’s landscape is very rocky and has alot of loose gravel/sand. In other words, it can be really easy to take a tumble or roll an ankle without the proper footwear.

This isn’t necessary if you plan on having a city elopement or taking an easy stroll through a park, but is a must if you plan on hiking on your elopement. It’s important to have practical shoes so that your feet warm warm, dry, and comfortable.

You can usually opt out of getting a waterproof pair if you are eloping in the summer. With the right footwear you can enjoy hiking for longer and the outdoors in general. I only really recommend wearing heels/ dress shoes when you have reached your final ceremony location or portrait location.

Wedding Dresses for Elopements

Choosing an elopement dress is such a fun part of the planning process! When selecting a wedding dress for your elopement you want to make sure that it isn’t restraining you in any way. This is especially true, if you are planning on hiking in your dress. I recommend staying away from heavy dresses and corset style dresses. I love a good train, but you want to invest in having a seamstress adding a bustle. Make sure when trying on the dresses, that you bend, stretch, walk, twist, raise your arms, and twirl! Also remember to ask how long the dress takes to ship – some wedding dresses can take up to a year! (Mine took 9-months!!)

Suits for Elopements

When trying on suits, make sure you can sit down, lift your knees, and have full range of motion. If you’re eloping in winter, go for a warmer fabric like wool or tweed. You might even want to leave enough room for layers if you are planning on hiking in winter. (Make sure you try on the suit well before your elopement). Additionally, if you are eloping in the summer you may want to choose a more breathable fabric.

Layers, Layers and More Layers!

Colorado’s weather is unpredictable, so it’s best to come prepared for everything. Even in the summer if you are up at sunrise and sunset in the mountains it can sometimes get down to 30 degrees. I tell all of my couples to bring a light puffer, a raincoat, extra layers and socks because you can never be too prepared. In the winter it’s best to wear layer a wool as your base and then layer from there. Don’t forget scarves, hats and gloves. There are also nude wool leggings you can purchase to wear under your dress – all of my brides have said that it’s a life saver.

Gear for Your Elopement

I always suggest bringing a hiking backpack along because you can stuff all your extra layers into it, as well as, snacks, water, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. If you are planning on hiking a good bit of the day you may also want to consider bringing trekking poles to help relieve any back pain or knee pain you may have. Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to bring hand-warmers, oxygen (if coming from a low elevation state), sunglasses and anything to make you more comfortable for spending a few hours outside.

Activities for your Colorado Elopement

Rock-Climbing & Via Ferrata

If you want to spend your elopement rock-climbing or doing via ferrata there is no shortage of locations you can adventure too. Colorado is a rock-climbers paradise and I can not recommend getting out there enough to experience when of the many awesome locations.

Paddle-boarding & Kayaking

Colorado has a ton of amazing alpine lakes and what better way to explore them than by – sailing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding.

Off-roading, Jeeping & ATVing

In my opinion, Colorado has some of the best off-roading trails to explore. The San Juan Mountains probably being the most popular location. This is a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time, and if you aren’t much of a hiker you can get to some really remote places this way without the workout 😉

Planning Your Elopement Timeline

There are several things to considering when building your elopement timeline. I always suggest hiring an elopement photographer right away because most of us offer this service with our photography packages. Your elopement photographer should have plenty of experience with how to make your day as smooth as possible while including everything you want to experience on your elopement day. Elopements usually still include traditional elements such as, getting ready photos, a ceremony, family portraits (if you are having guests), golden hour portraits and reception photos if applicable.

What to Pack for your Colorado Elopement

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Bug Spray
  3. Hand Warmers
  4. Fleece-lined legging
  5. Hiking Boots / Sturdy Sneakers
  6. Gloves, hats, extra socks and items for staying warm/dry
  7. Medicine for altitude sickness / oxygen
  8. Wedding Dress and Suit
  9. Wedding Rings
  10. Vows
  11. Personal items that are a part of your ceremony
  12. Marriage license
  13. Backpack
  14. Flowers

What Vendors Should You Consider for your Elopement

Florist

I absolutely love florals, they just add a little extra touch to your day and they are a great accessory for photos. There are several amazing florists all throughout Colorado, so no matter what region of Colorado you are eloping in you are sure to find someone who is incredibly talented.

Officiant

I know this is an unpopular opinion that most other don’t share with me, but I recommend to all of my couples to hire an officiant for their elopement ceremony. An officiant is there to help guide you through the ceremony process and most of them provide you with . Emotions are running high during your elopement day and when it’s finally time to say your vows many couples struggle to complete the ceremony or don’t know what to do throughout to make it extra special. Officiants allow you to take a back seat and really focus on each other rather than struggling through what to do next while fighting your tears.

Hair & Makeup

There are very few times in life where we get to treat ourselves to getting our hair and makeup done, and what better day than your wedding day. Getting your hair and makeup done professionally is relaxing and takes the stress off of you figuring out how to do it yourself. This is also a great option if you don’t know how to put makeup on or do your hair. It’s always nice to look and feel your best. This also ensures that you get your hair and makeup done in a timely manner so you keep to the timeline of the day.

Private Chef / Picnic Company

Hiring a private chef or picnic company to set something up for you is a great way to ensure privacy and have an additional special experience on your elopement day. You absolutely deserve to indulge on your wedding day and have something out of the ordinary to eat on the day you get married! Especially, if you’re a foodie!

Tour Guides

I always recommend hiring a tour guide if you plan on including an adventurous outdoor experience that you have never done. This allows you to have the extra safety that comes with someone who is experienced in the sport and they generally are very knowledgeable about the area and can provide with information, history, or even details about the fauna and flora in the area you maybe exploring.

What Airports to Fly into for your Colorado Elopement

Colorado has several airports you can fly into depending on what region of Colorado you are planning on eloping in. Denver International Airport is generally where most couples fly into because it is a larger airport and has cheaper flights than most of the smaller airports. If you are eloping in the San Juan Mountains you can check out Montrose’s Airport or Grand Junction. If you are set on eloping at Garden of the Gods or Colorado Springs, I would suggest looking at Colorado Springs Airport to fly directly into. I love using Google Flights when looking for flight deals.

Where to Stay For Your Colorado Elopement

Many of my couples end up booking either an Airbnb, VRBO, or some other type of rental property. Due to Colorado being a popular tourist destination there are so many great accommodations to choose from. There is something to fit everyone’s vision! The most popular choose that I see a lot of couples choose are A-frames, cabins, and mountain chateaus. If you absolutely love your privacy and want something super private you could always look into renting a property that is large enough to host your entire wedding party at, and hold your ceremony there. If you do go this route you will want to get permission from the owners first.

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness

Unless you live in a mountainous area or you are people who frequently hike/travel to higher elevations, altitude sickness may not be something that you are familiar with. Altitude sickness occurs when a person travels to a high altitude without gradually acclimating. It is most prevalent at 8,000 feet or higher and results from a shortage of oxygen. Here are a couple steps you can take to prevent Altitude Sickness.

  1. Climb Slowly 
  2. Eat Carbs
  3. Drink Water
  4. Take it Easy
  5. Sleep at Lower Altitudes
  6. Altitude Sickness Medication

If you are experiencing altitude sickness symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, throwing up, feeling tired, shortness of breath, faster heart rate, not feeling well overall, loss of appetite make sure you let someone know right away. This could just be normal fatigue from hiking but it’s always good to have someone check you to be safe. 

Leave No Trace in Colorado

If you are an outdoor enthusiast such as myself, you may have heard this term used before. If you haven’t that’s totally ok! Let me break it down as all elopement photographers and couples should use these basic guidelines to keep Colorado beautiful.

The whole point of following LNT principles is that we leave it how we found it. It should be as if we were never even there. In general this involves not removing natural life such as small critters and/or flowers, sticking to the trail so we don’t trample the wildlife/vegetation, and if something is moved that we put it back exactly where we found it. As your elopement photographer I will make sure we are following this code to the best of our abilities but if we all work at it together and be mindful of it, then it should be an easy rule for us to follow. To learn more about LNT click here.

Other Things to Consider When Eloping in Colorado

Elope on a weekday in Colorado for more Privacy

People come to Colorado because of all the hiking trails and many tourists are coming on weekends because it is more convenient for people, which is when many get out & hit the trails. Weekends during peak season in Colorado are incredibly busy. The middle of the week is one of the best times to elope. The trails are less crowded, you have more flexibility and generally most vendors have these dates available – so if you want to make sure you get your dream team this is another great reason to elope on a weekday in Colorado. 

Plan for a Sunrise or Sunset Elopement in Colorado

Sunrise is definitely the better choice when choosing between sunrise and sunset because most people aren’t willing to get up and go that early. But if you value privacy and want a popular location all to yourselves this a great option. If you combine a sunrise elopement with a weekday elopement in Colorado, you are sure to have popular locations more to yourself.

Ready to Get Started Planning Your Elopement here in Colorado?

I would absolutely love to help you plan the most epic elopement of your dreams and create a day that is centered around your love. Reach out here to get started planning your elopement.

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